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It seems an assumption of modern life that more is more, especially when it comes to dessert. There’s a reason bakeries line their pastry windows with custard-filled tarts topped with rows of glistening fruit and multi-tiered cakes with intricate frosting designs. They know what sells.
There’s even a restaurant in New York City that garnishes your milkshake with an entire slice of cake.
Don’t get me wrong: I like a little decadence. But I also love coming across a recipe that reminds me how sophisticated simplicity can be.
This particular cake illustrates the benefits of a little restraint. It’s not too sweet nor too showy. A stunning design of sliced pears fans across the surface, making the cake perfectly worthy of bringing to a dinner party or serving at a sit-down brunch.
Sour cream and butter give it a moist texture, but the crumb remains quite delicate. Be sure not to over-bake it: A cake this simple can dry out easily.
I’ve added ground cardamom to the batter, because I love the flavors of cardamom and pear together. You can easily swap it for cinnamon if you aren’t a big cardamom fan.
Don’t slice your pears too thinly. Aim for around 1/4-inch thickness. The way that the fruit softens is one of the best parts of this cake: Where the batter cradles the fruit, you get a thin custard-like layer, reminiscent of clafoutis.
I can’t tell you how long this cake will keep because we ate in all in one day! But that should be recommendation enough for you, don’t you agree?
- 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 medium pears
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar